Iowa lawmakers agree on Lake Delhi funding

State to supply $5 million over two years

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Rebuilding of the Lake Delhi dam should begin this year if an agreement struck late Friday by Iowa lawmakers is approved and signed by Gov. Terry Branstad.

The agreement between lawmakers negotiating the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget calls for the state to put up $5 million over the next two years to rebuild the dam that was breached in July 2010, causing the man-made lake to drain.

“It went back and forth and it was in and it was out, and I got it put back in,” said Rep. Lee Hein, R-Monticello, a member of the negotiating committee.

The agreement stipulates that the state will put aside $2.5 million in the budget year that begins July 1 and another $2.5 million the following year to rebuild the dam.

“We’re thankful that the legislators kept their word,” said Steve Leonard, president of the Lake Delhi Combined Recreational Facility and Water Quality District, the lake area’s official governing body.

During the ups and downs of budget negotiations, Leonard said he never lost confidence that the Legislature and governor backed the rebuilding of the dam.

Leonard said the funding commitment clears the way for work to begin this year on phase 1 of the rebuilding project, repairing the largely intact concrete portion of the dam.

Once phase 1 is complete, perhaps later this year, the Maquoketa River can be diverted through the concrete section, clearing the way for the rebuilding of the earthen dike that failed during extreme flooding in July 2010, he said.

The dike should be completed next year, enabling the restoration of the lake, Leonard said.

Meanwhile, work has been proceeding on a plan to increase public access to the lake that was impounded in 1928, he said.

News of the deal will energize Lake Delhi residents to complete repairs of their flood-damaged properties, Leonard said.

The state appropriation caps a fundraising effort that includes a $3 million bond approved earlier this year by the Delaware County supervisors, a $6.1 million bond approved in November by Lake Delhi residents and more than $1.7 million in donations and pledges.

The estimated cost of rebuilding the dam is $11.9 million.

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